Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

White House dog Bo: Despite canine Kennedy clout, can stand on his own four feet


WASHINGTON -- The much anticipated White House dog is Bo, a Portuguese water dog, who joins the Obama family on Tuesday.

As is normal in high-level Obama administration appointments, Bo had big clout behind him -- he's a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy -- but had to prove himself worthy through a vetting process that he could stand on his own four feet.

Bo's final vetting came during a visit to the White House for a little over an hour in mid-March, where he clicked. First daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, were promised a pup at the end of the campaign no matter the outcome.

As sometimes happens, Bo's selection comes with some controversy. Then President-elect Obama on Nov. 7 outlined two criteria for the First Dog in response to a question I asked during his first post-election press conference. Obama said the pooch had to be hypoallergenic because of Malia's allergies, and "our preference would be to get a shelter dog."

Though the 6-month-old Bo comes from a breed considered hypoallegenic, Bo is not from a shelter. Bo comes from the storied Kennedy clan. Bo's mother is Cappy, one of several dogs owned by dog lover Kennedy. And Bo is a repurposed pup. The White House will be Bo's second home, having lived with another family first.

Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld, a spokesman for the first lady, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "They were looking at shelters, but in the end the Kennedys learned of this litter mate of their dog who needed a home and they wanted to give the girls a gift -- and here we are!"

Lelyveld further explained, Bo "was previously owned but did not get along with the other dogs in its last house. The Kennedys learned of its availability and got it for the Obama girls."

There is a media backstory to Bo's arrival. Bo was going to be unveiled on Tuesday with the plan to give the scoop first to the Washington Post. Bo's rollout was foiled after the news leaked out from a little-known site, www.first and picked up by The Post recounted in its Sunday edition the puppy scoop came as a consolation prize because the New York Times got the exclusive about the planting of the White House garden.

Bo's appointment does not need Senate confirmation. Anyway, Bo will likely be discreet. He comes from a breed that sheds only a little.


A Gordon Setter would have been a better choice. They have hair and don't shed fur. Gordons are like an Irish setter but are not overbred like the Irish Setters. They're beautiful and not as hyper as a Porty. Their hair is curlier than an Irish and dtheir color is that of a Rottwieler. Their temperment is wonderful and are very faithful to their family. There used to be a breeder in San Diego, CA in case the Porty doesn't work out. A Gordon would be a much better choice for a first dog.

I'm sick of people who a sick of this story. It's a cute puppy and lifestyle type story, but nobody thinks it's "real news" and we don't need you to tell us. So stop above it all when you shout about "what about Issue X or Issue Y".

This is news! Even people in France, asked President Obama when was the puppy coming to white house. So, speak for yourself.

There is some people out there whom say they are already sick of this story about Bo. No body was sick of Barney when he was in the White House! Some people out there make me sick and you know who you are. Stop hating on Obama. Its a dog. Its a pet. These are little girls. Give it a break and be kind.

I'm so glad the Whitehouse dog has been in the news. We need some good news something that is happy news. I have had two shelter dogs, they are the best dogs in the world. But, I don't think it is wrong with getting a dog from someone who is a friend anyway it looks like Bo has a hard time getting along with his peers. So maybe the President can work some of this magic on BO.

Good luck with Bo, Mr.President

BO for Barack Obama or Bo Diddley. Please take that lei off of him. It hides too much of his body. He can wear it when he comes to Hawaii!! It is wonderful that Malia and Sasha have a dog, but I think Bo stole the President's heart when he ran with Barack. That scene made my day. Aloha and congratulations.

It's ok to write a story about it now that he actually HAS a dog. I was tired of hearing from the reporters "where's the dog you promised you were getting...and blah blah blah". Why don't you ask questions that really matter. Congrats on the let's move on and get this economy fixed.

Hope Malia and Sasha don't get too attached to BO the dog. BO, the pres, will get rid of the dog once it has lost its PR value for him. This poor dog is just another presser, or PR event, calculated and staged for effect like everything else BO, the Pres does. To humanize The Great One. When the dog has lost PR value the storyline will revert to what is being said in preparation of that time....that the dog has issues...then the Kennedy's have an opportunity to come to the rescue again. More headlines and attention....Surprise, Surprise.

Congratulations on the new White House addition! You all are blessed to have such a happy dog to keep you company, bring you joy, and give you comfort. Having a pet is the greatest! I wish only the best for the Obama family. Keep up your good work.

Dogs and especially ones as cute as Bo never lose their PR value! I hope the girls get a chance to really spend quality training time using a positive method like Clicker with their dog. I know they would all love to do freestyle or doggie dancing. It is so good for all concerned.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 13, 2009 8:53 AM.

President Obama official schedule and guidance, April 13, 2009. Easter egg roll, Transportation department visit was the previous entry in this blog.

At the White House Easter Egg roll, Obama plays coach; Fergie sings is the next entry in this blog.

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